There were many great notebook products available in 2016 thanks to technology advances. Here’s a list of my top picks of each type of notebook currently on the market. These laptops are all great and worthy of your consideration, even though some of them will soon be updated to Intel Kaby Lake.
Ultrabooks and 2-in-1s Notebook Hybrids
Dell XPS 13 and XPS 15, Starting at $799, $999:
Two of the most coveted laptops of 2016 are Dell’s XPS 13 premium 13-inch and XPS15 premium 15-inch notebooks. These two notebooks are a great example of outstanding product design and features that will continue to underpin the Dell family for many years. They have high-quality machined aluminium and composite carbon fibre build materials. The Infinity Edge display technology by Dell has a very thin bezel that allows these notebooks to have a significantly smaller footprint than the traditional 13 and 15 inch frames. It also looks amazing, unlike any other notebook display on the market. These two notebook displays are top-notch in performance and battery life. Dell’s refurbished XPS 13 with Kaby Lake in Rose Gold is not only beautiful to look at, but also one of my fastest 13-inch machines and one of its longest lasting.
Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga with OLED (Starting at 1403)
The ThinkPad Yoga with OLED display from Lenovo might be the perfect solution for you if you are a road warrior who also loves pixels. Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 series has been my daily driver for many years. This is largely due to its strong build quality, light weight, and superior performance. With a typing deck I can use, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is no exception. It is a slim 2.8 pound, weighs in at a mere 2.8 lbs, and its display can articulate 360 degrees. And yes, the 13-inch OLED panel looks amazing. OLED displays are the best for displaying saturation, contrast, and colour. After you have used one for a few days you will never go back to an IPS panel.
HP Spectre (Starting at $1,099):
HP’s 13-inch, gold-laced Spectre laptop was the machine that was looking to win a beauty competition this year. It’s light and thin at just 2.45 lbs and.41 inches in length, but the machine has a unique design signature. From its recessed piston hinges, its etched aluminium-gold-finished rear edge, and its gold accented key cap, this machine adds subtle bling. The machine’s rigidity is enhanced by the addition of a gold rear edge, which gives it a balanced, quality feel in the hand. It’s also one of the thin notebooks on the market, with key travel of just 1.3mm. Typing on it is very comfortable. This ultra-classy piece of technology is a great choice. It offers solid performance and a powerful 350 nits 1080p LCD display.
Microsoft Surface Book, Surface Pro 4, Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S
Prices start at $1250, $899, and $899 respectively
Microsoft has been on an incredible run in the hardware industry lately, creating products for both desktop and mobile that are exemplary in design, functionality, and performance. Although it might seem like Microsoft was just a few years ago that Microsoft would be innovating Apple’s hardware, that is exactly where we are today. Redmond is moving ahead of Cupertino, both with its hybrid 2-in-1 Surface Pro 4 as well as its recently refreshed Surface Book 1_. Microsoft has recently updated the Surface Book, which features faster Intel Skylake processors as well as NVIDIA’s GTX 965M graphics engines. Although the new Surface Book was probably designed before Intel’s Kaby Lake attack and missed NVIDIA’s Pascal GeForce10 mobile series debut , it is still an amazing machine with a super high resolution display and more horsepower.
The Surface Pro 4 is still an excellent option for 2-in-1 detachable devices. Even though it was released over a year ago. Microsoft’s machine runs Windows 10 OS. This is something Apple’s larger iOS device cannot claim as a Mac OS cross-platform. Apple’s tablet is more like a tablet with 2-in-1 mechanics. That’s fine if it works for you. But, not for me.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S, which is an honourable mention and has a street price that may be lower, is also a solid 2-in-1, detachable option. It features a 12-inch OLED display, driven by Intel’s Skylake Core m series processors.
Desktop Replacements and Gaming Beasts:
Alienware 13R3 and Alienware 15 (Starting At $1199 & $1349).
The introduction of the redesigned Alienware13 R3 and Alienware15 gaming notebooks made a splash in 2016. While Alienware machines are highly sought after by gamers who want powerful, premium machines, their design has not changed in the last few years. Alienware 13 R3 has a slightly more angular design and rear-mounted cooling systems. These do a great job keeping internals cool and minimising throttle. NVIDIA’s Mobile GeForce GTX10 series GPUs (Pascal Architecture) are now available on both machines. The new Alienware13 is actually over 2x faster that the previous generation machine. It also has an OLED display option, which we highly recommend. For optimal performance, choose Alienware’s PCI Express Solid State Drive options. AlienFX customizable lighting is available in many zones on the Alienware’s machines, as well as their keyboards. This gives you a more polished gaming experience. HotHardware’s 17-inch machine is still in development, but we have seen it perform well.
ASUS ROG GH752 (Starting at 1479):
This notebook is a strong, unapologetic, and tough gaming notebook. Although the ASUS ROG G752’s 17-inch size has seen a few changes, its brushed aluminium exterior has been given arrest me red and copper accents to make it stand out. It now comes with the GeForceGTX 1070 underneath it, which also brings the boom to gaming. It can be configured with 32GB RAM, all kinds of storage options including NVMe solid-state drives and a display with NVIDIA G-Sync technology for smooth, jitter-free gaming. A ROG G752 loaded for bear can be expensive, but it delivers big performance in a small notebook-like package.
Lenovo IdeaPad Z900 (Starting at $2599):
This honourable mention goes to Lenovo because it is improving its gaming skills. The IdeaPad Y900, a 17-inch machine, features some of the most recent technologies such as a Killer AC wireless gaming WiFi NIC and a quad-core Core i7-680HK processor. It also has a GeForce GTX 980M graphic engine. The machine also features a G-Sync display option. However, we recommend waiting until Lenovo updates the machine with Mobile GeForce 10 GPU variations and possibly even Intel Kaby Lake processors. It’s still a solid machine with plenty of muscle and nice creature comforts like a soft touch palm rest and RGB keyboard lighting.
This concludes my list. Keep an eye out for 2017 coverage. Some of these machines could get new internals with new Intel, NVIDIA, or AMD silicon to improve performance and battery life.
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